Ag day

UW-River Falls students pet a calf during last year’s Ag Day on Campus event. This year’s event will take place at UW-River Falls on April 18.

Farmers across Wisconsin and the rest of the nation are beset by struggles of many sorts, and while those difficulties are real, there is much to celebrate in modern agriculture too, organizers of Ag Day on Campus at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls say. 

This year’s annual event is Tuesday, April 18, from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will highlight the importance of the agriculture sector. Many agriculture-related advances, such as technology-driven farm-related jobs and efforts to open new ag markets, are signs that farming, despite challenges, has a bright future. 

Ag Day on Campus was started in 2012 and is put on by the UW-River Falls Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter. 

After a 9:30 a.m. opening ceremony at the University Center mall,  East 501 Wild Rose Ave., event attendees can visit more than 20 booths set up by student organizations and businesses, many of which will feature interactive activities. Farm animals will be on site for attendees to pet and learn about until 2 p.m. 

A dinner featuring Wisconsin-grown foods is scheduled for 5 p.m. in the Agricultural Science Hall, 611 South Third St., on campus. The meal is free and open to all. The dinner is followed by a panel of agriculture experts discussing farm-related topics. Then, at 7 p.m., in the Riverview Ballroom in the University Center, the acclaimed Kansas-based Peterson Farm Brothers will perform their farm-related musical parodies. 

Connecting to food

During the coronavirus pandemic, people became more interested in where their food comes from. One of the chief aims is to help people attending the event make connections with the food they consume. 

Sierra Howry, a professor of agriculture economics who works to organize Ag Day on Campus, said the event “helps bridge the gap” between urban and rural communities. Local daycares are invited to attend the event, allowing youngsters to learn about agriculture. 

In addition to teaching people about how their food is produced, Ag Day provides students with an opportunity to engage with others on “real-world issues in agriculture,” said Dean Olson, interim dean of the UW-River Falls College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. The event also provides attendees with hands-on agricultural experiences, he said.

‘Challenges are overcome’

Ag Day on Campus also will also feature sustainability, a topic of growing importance in many sectors, including agriculture, Schlies and Hoesly said. Farmers take seriously their impact on the environment around them and are working on ways to make agriculture more sustainable, they said.

The hundreds of people who attend Ag Day show that many people not only are interested in agriculture but support it. The organizers of the event acknowledged challenges agriculture faces but expressed optimism that leaders will meet those obstacles. Farmers supporting each other goes a long way toward meeting that goal. 

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